Monday, August 13, 2012

Welcome to Organic Chemistry I (CHM 223)


The fall semester is upon us and it’s time to start preparing for our first class. Welcome to Organic Chemistry I, CHM 223. My name is Prof. Chad Landrie and I’ll be your instructor this semester. Our metaphor for successfully completing this course is the Simmons-Smith cyclopropanation. As we’ll learn later this semester, the Simmons-Smith reaction is performed by combining diiodomethane (Motivation) with zinc (Diligence) to create a highly reactive carbon atom. This reactive intermediate then combines with the double bonds (Preparation/Organization) to form 3-membered rings called cyclopropanes (your success, A+). It’s a cheesy metaphor, I know. What can I say? I’m a nerdy chemist. The point is I intend not only to share my passion for the world of organic chemistry with you, but also to help you become an effective and efficient learner. That process starts with preparation and organization, which I discuss briefly below. On our first day of class we’ll discuss motivation and diligence, so start thinking about what those characteristics mean to you.

Preparation and organization are, in my opinion, the most important components of being a successful learner. They are the foundation upon which we will construct an environment that maximizes our potential to learn. When we prepare for something, we start by asking questions that test our readiness for a task, such as:

  • When is the first quiz?
  • What material do I need to review and master before lecture?
  • How do I write a laboratory notebook entry?
  • How much time will I need to complete the homework assignment?
  • Where is my instructor’s office and when can I visit if I need help?
  • Who is responsible for reminding me when assignments are due?
  • What are the course policies I need to know?

Once we’ve answered these questions and constructed a list of tasks that need to be completed, then we need to organize the information we’ve gained as well as our time. We all organize information and time uniquely, but below are some best practices that I believe we should implement.

  • Develop a personal schedule. Time management is crucial in ensuring you can complete the tasks for all your courses to the best of your ability. Make your schedule as detailed as possible by including time for class, work, studying and homework. Reserving Sunday to do everything is a recipe for disaster.
  • Make weekly to-do lists. There’s nothing more satisfying for me than checking off the last item on a to-do list however short it may be. Just the act of making the list helps us ask and then remember what needs to be done.
  • Know your course progress. Frequently check your scores and course grade on D2L. See your instructor right away when you are not meeting your goals so that together the two of you can formulate a study plan.
  • Reorganize notes into categories that make sense to you. There are many ways the information in this course can be organized; the order of the sections in the textbook is not the only or necessarily the best way. For example, midway through the course you may want to make a list of all reactions you’ve learned that proceed through a carbocation intermediate. The act of reorganizing notes and creating new notes will help you form connections between topics, which will increase your understanding and retention.

To help you prepare and get organized, I’ve asked some of these preparation questions for you and developed a to-do list, which you’ll find below. The tasks in this list should be completed before our first class. If you have questions or need help, don’t hesitate to stop by my office, call or send an email. I look forward to meeting you all as we begin this exciting journey. And if you are passionate about learning, it will be exciting.

Dr. L

Office: 2106 DP
Office: 847-376-7439

To-Do List

1. Obtain the required and recommended resources for the course including the textbook, laboratory manual, laboratory notebook and goggles. The full list is in the syllabus and can also be found on the CHM 223 course website. Decide now whether you intend to purchase your own i>Clicker or whether you will use a loaned i>Clicker that must be returned after each class. For more information, read the section on i>Clickers in the course syllabus or on the i>Clicker page on the website.

2. Download the syllabus from D2L, or the Download Center within the course website. You may also view it on the Syllabus page. Read the syllabus carefully to familiarize yourself with the course requirements, schedule and policies. Know what's going to be expected of you this semester so that you are adequately prepared the first day and can ask informed questions. A hard copy of the syllabus will be distributed during the first day of class.

3. Familiarize yourself with your D2L course (Make sure you've been automatically enrolled!). Right now, all that is posted on D2L is the course syllabus. Later I will use this platform to post your course scores and current grade.

4. Familiarize yourself with the course website. I will primarily use the website to disseminate content such the syllabus, schedules, calendars and lecture slides. Important announcements will always be emailed to the class through D2L. These announcements can also be found on my blog.

5. Study sections 1.1-1.5; 1.11, and 1.12 in your textbook. The majority of the first chapter is a review of general chemistry topics and will be covered quickly. Studying includes not only reading the sections, but also attempting some of the problems and formulating a list of questions you'd like to ask during lecture.

6. Complete problems 1-19 from Chapter 1. These problems will not be graded or turned in; however, you should use these to test your understanding of basic general chemistry topics. This will give you an idea of whether you have sufficient mastery of general chemistry to begin learning organic chemistry. If you're having trouble with this assignment, see me right away so that I can help.

7. Attend the first class! Attendance is required and important for your success. We will be using i>Clickers beginning on the first day of class and your attendance is recorded each time you vote.

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